I’m nine months in to a planned year hiatus from Facebook. Having Facebook as part of my daily web browsing routine since 2004-5, I wanted to see how I would get along without it. The nine months without it has been enjoyable although I do miss a couple of things. There were a lot of reasons why I decided to take a break: primarily the ugliness of ‘friends’ during the 2016 election and continued ugliness into 2017 and the on-going revelations of Facebook’s corrupt business practices (e.g. tracking users/non-users, the misuse of personal data, discrimination/racial profiling, etc). In the last nine months, more has been revealed regarding Facebook’s malicious practices, the outside influence of social media posts in swaying the 2016 election, its standards for objectionable content, and overall, the lack of responsibility to prevent malicious use of its platform, which further my reasons for taking a break.
By mid-2017, I was on my way to reducing my use of Facebook–I had deleted the app from my phone and tablets and primarily relied on viewing it through the mobile interface. On January 1, 2018, I made my last post and permanently logged out.
Given Facebook’s presence on the web, it’s been challenging to completely avoid it. I still encounter links to posts, articles, videos, and photos that are posted only to Facebook. Sometimes it’s public content that can be viewed without logging in. When it’s not and requires a login, I have opted not to view it and try to find it elsewhere. I still encounter some articles on the web that rely on Facebook’s comment system so I’m occasionally exposed to the train wreck of Facebook comments.
What I miss most about Facebook:
- My wife’s posts: she shares a lot of funny posts and pictures about our boys that I miss out on. I usually find out about her posts days or weeks later through co-workers, family, and friends. She’s been cross-posting pictures on Instagram and uploading more of her videos on YouTube, so I still get my fill.
- Updates on my friends and family: Specifically, the happenings, updates, and photos of my friends and family. I believe this is what made Facebook so fun early on. It was a way to stay connected and informed of what was going on. Over the years, the content algorithm and non-chronological timeline butchered this experience. Viewing friend and family content became a chore. Filtering was either on or off and not content-based. Toward the end, I felt like I was just scrolling through shared or linked content. To find original content and photos, I would have to visit a specific friend’s profile.
One question I keep asking myself is if taking this break from Facebook has been worth it? Nine months in and I’m still not sure. I can say with 100% certainty that life is a lot better without friends posing arguments or opinions, hearing another Sean Hannity or Bernie Sanders soundbite, or seeing another one of those Tasty videos.